Thursday, February 25, 2010

Black Garlic Mac & Cheese

I first saw Black Garlic in the store months ago. I had no idea what it was or why it existed, but I read the label and discovered that it is aged and fermented and for some reason this turns it black. It sounded, frankly, a little disturbing. At some point, though, I decided that as a Food Blogger it is my duty to my readers to try weird food that I find in the grocery store and tell you about it. (Tangent: Don't buy pummelos. They're sorta tasty, but they're way more trouble than they're worth and I wish I had the hour of my life that it took me to eat the damn thing back.)

I started searching for recipes. Recipezaar let me down (for the first time ever) and didn't have anything. Neither did any of the other websites I generally go to for recipes. So I went to Google and searched for Black Garlic and came across the Black Garlic Website. I guess there's only one company that makes it. Anyway, the site told me that "Black garlic is sweet meets savory, a perfect mix of molasses-like richness and tangy garlic undertones. It has a tender, almost jelly-like texture with a melt-in-your-mouth consistency similar to a soft dried fruit. Hard to believe, but true. It’s as delicious as it is unique." Sounds strange, but tasty, and since I love garlic so much it was definitely worth a shot. However, the next thing on the site almost scared me off: "Imagine garlic without all of the annoying stuff. Bad breath? Nope. Pungent odor? Nope. Acrid bite? No sir." Aren't all these things the point of garlic? Why would I eat garlic without the smell and "acrid bite"? Isn't that stuff the appeal of garlic? I guess the Black Garlic guys don't think so. Anyway, Black Garlic is being touted as "the new superfood" and is supposed to have "hell of properties."

Anyway, I finally found a recipe that looked halfway decent for Black Garlic Mac & Cheese. I'd been craving comfort food, and it sounded like a delicious twist on the original. The recipe was kind of annoying to follow because it's written as "use this much per serving" and I prefer to make a ton and have a lot of leftovers, so I had difficulty deciding how much of each ingredient to put in. So I'm posting it here (adapted) for six people to make it easier to follow, and if you're not serving six people, you'll have leftovers.

Black Garlic Mac & Cheese: Recipe
-2.5 cups elbow macaroni (dry)
-About 6 cups of milk
-Enough roux or cornstarch to thicken the milk considerably
-1.5 cups freshly-grated sharp cheddar (I recommend Cabot Seriously Sharp Cheddar)
-About 1/2 cup freshly-grated parmesan
-4-6 cloves black garlic
-3 cloves NORMAL garlic (my addition)
-Salt and pepper to taste (optional, I usually leave this for people to add individually since I'd put way more pepper in it than anyone would actually want)
-Breadcrumbs to cover

1. Simmer the milk with the salt and pepper (if you're using them) in a large saucepan. Add the roux or cornstarch and mix with a whisk or hand blender until the milk thickens. How thick you want it is up to you--I like mine more solid, but I know plenty of people prefer it saucy.
2. Boil the pasta and run under cold water. Put aside for later.
3. Add cheeses and garlics to the milk-sauce over low heat and stir until the cheese has melted completely into the sauce.
3.5. Preheat the broiler.
4. Add the macaroni, stir to cover the pasta. Let cook for about two minutes.
5. Put the whole mixture into a large bowl and top with breadcrumbs. If you didn't preheat the broiler when I told you to, turn it on now.
6. Put the bowl on a low rack under the broiler (if it's too high, the top will just burn and you'll have black breadcrumbs in addition to black garlic.) Leave it in for one minute. Really. Not longer. It'll burn.
7. Remove from oven. Allow to cool for a few minutes and serve.

I served mine with canned diced tomatoes. I don't know if this is really a common thing to do, but it's how I grew up eating mac & cheese so it's how I like it. If you haven't tried it, it's tasty--Not Your Average Joe's does a similar thing with their mac & cheese so it can't be all that weird. I also topped it with some pan-fried chicken (another idea stolen from Not Your Average Joe's) which is the top-secret chicken recipe I'm working on and will share when I decide it's ready. The point is that chicken is pretty tasty with this too. The original poster of the recipe is apparently a chef at some big restaurant somewhere and adds lobster meat. I hate seafood, so I wouldn't, but you might want to.

Chicken marinading...yum

Everything ready to go in the pot!

It doesn't look like anything special, but it was damn tasty. (Also, I completely forgot to take pictures of the finished product the first time around because I was too busy going "OM NOM NOM" so these are the leftovers. Sorry.)

Anyway, the verdict on Black Garlic: if you really, really love garlic, this isn't the garlic for you. It just doesn't have the garlicky flavor that I've been addicted to since I was a kid. However, it's pretty cool, and would probably impress people if you were making something fancy for a dinner party. I mean, it sounds fancy. And if you're not a huge garlic lover, this might be just the thing for you. It has a slight garlic taste, but it's subtle, and won't leave you smelling like garlic for a week. (It's also squishy and difficult to mince, so you'll end up with bigger pieces, but that's okay.) The mac & cheese was absolutely amazing, though--super creamy and rich and plain delicious. Black garlic or not, this will probably remain my go-to recipe when I'm in desperate need of comfort food. (Thanks to AGreatChef for the inspiration!)

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


I woke up today to a text message from my mom saying "today would be a good day for banana pancakes and a blog post." At this point I've got five posts worth of pictures saved up, but since it's midterms (and, since I'm taking that half-semester class, one final) time is pretty cramped and I'm just going to share today's breakfast and hopefully have time soon to get the rest of those up.

On the plus side (well, plus side for blogging), the second half-semester class I was going to take was canceled, which means I'll have lots of free time for the rest of the semester. Woo!

(adapted from Recipezaar)

-1 cup flour
-4 tsp sugar
-2 tsp baking powder
-dash of salt
-1 large egg
-1/2-1 cup milk (less for fluffier pancakes, more for denser)
-2 tsp almond extract
-2 tbsp vegetable oil (or melted butter)
-2 large overripe bananas
-Butter (for the pan)
-Maple syrup (because they're pancakes)

1. Mix dry ingredients (flour, sugar, baking soda and salt) in a small bowl. (Really--you only have a little over a cup of stuff here. You don't need a huge bowl for it.)
2. Mash the bananas in a large bowl until they are mostly liquidy, but with a good amount of banana-chunks left.
3. Add the egg. Mash it in with the bananas. (You could probably toss it in when you're mashing the bananas in the first place, now that I think of it.) It's not really necessary to have the egg "slightly beaten" when you add it. I don't know why people always say to do this.
4. Add 1/2 cup milk, almond extract and vegetable oil/melted butter to the banana and egg mixture. Stir.
5. Add the flour mixture to the banana mixture. Stir until combined. Don't over-stir, a few clumps of flour are okay.
6. Add more milk, stirring, until the batter reaches your preferred consistency. I probably added another quarter cup after the half. The more liquid your batter is, the denser your pancakes will be.
7. Cook pancakes in a well-buttered frying pan over medium heat. (I use a 1/4 cup measure to pour the right amount of batter into the pan.) Flip when the sides look solid and the bubbles on the top are beginning to pop.
8. Transfer cooked pancakes to a plate and cover with a clean dishtowel to retain heat. Continue repeating steps 7 and 8 until all the batter has turned into pancakes.
9. Top with real maple syrup and enjoy!

I loved these. You could probably use whatever kind of extract you want, but I like almond. And I loved how fluffy they came out; I always have a hard time with fruit pancakes because of the added juices.

How do you like your pancakes? Do you prefer the authentic maple syrup, or the "Mrs Butterworth's" type? And what do you drink with pancakes? Milk? Orange juice?

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Gemuetlichkeit ist...

Hello, everyone! I'm still alive, just absolutely AMAZED at how much work I have this semester--my online class is almost over (only a week and a half left!) but I'm going to do another one for the second half of the semester, so it doesn't seem like it'll let up anytime soon. On the plus side, I'll be piling up the credits and hopefully graduating at some point in my life.

In high school, I was a member of the German Club. We didn't get any credits or anything, we just hung out after school on Thursdays and learned to speak a little German. Because of this, at some point I ended up owning a shirt that said "Gemuetlichkeit ist..." and had a picture of a dancing pretzel on it. Gemuetlichkeit ist ein Bretzel.

Gemuetlichkeit is a pretty awesome word. The Germans have a lot of words for happiness, and I'm pretty sure the most common is Schadenfreude--happiness at the misfortune of others. Gemuetlichkeit refers to the type of happiness that you feel when it's cold outside and you're wrapped in a Snuggie in front of the fireplace with a mug of hot chocolate and your favorite book. It's a comfortable happiness. Thought the shirt was a joke, I think it describes a pretzel pretty well.

The point of all this, of course, is that I made pretzels. It was really easy, and the process wasn't really spectacular (make dough, shape it, drop in boiling water for a few seconds, bake, sprinkle with your desired topping) so I only have pictures of the finished product. And I'm planning on tweaking the recipe a little as they were sort of bland, so I'm not even giving you a recipe. I will, though. Once I've improved upon it.

There you go! A cinnamon and sugar covered pretzel. It tasted sort of like a bagel, so I'm wondering if I should just go for that instead. I've never used yeast before, but it seems to have worked.

I have a few things saved up in my camera to post when I get free time (hooray for buffers!) and once I've used them up I'll actually need to find time to cook again. (I think Indian food will happen soon though, and this is very exciting.)